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Parents are being urged to assure their children that they are doing everything necessary to protect them in this COVID-19 environment.

Officials at the National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA) stated that such measures were important to alleviate stress among children, particularly younger ones, who were likely to experience a mixture of emotions being away from school and their friends for an extended period of time.

Speaking during an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service, Counsellor at the NCSA, Natalia Corbin-Ifill, explained that parents need to model appropriate behaviour for children.

“Be calm even in your body language.  Let the children know that their family is fine and healthy, and that you are confident they will get through the situation,” Mrs. Corbin-Ifill said.

She also suggested that parents engage their children in meaningful activities at this time, such as going through their schoolwork, drawing, and colouring, for the younger ones, while also ensuring they got adequate amounts of rest.

“Create a schedule for the children now that they are home. Make time to play with your children.  Take them to the beach. Go out in the parks and gardens,” the counsellor said.

She also urged parents to encourage children to express their feelings about the ongoing situation in general, and provide an opportunity to listen to what they are saying.

“Reassure them that what they are feeling at this time is normal.  See how you can identify solutions to the challenges that they may be having, and let them know that you are available to them,” Mrs. Corbin-Ifill pointed out.

Meanwhile, Research Assistant at the NCSA, Laura Lee-Foster, reminded parents to ensure that they keep medications under “lock and key”, with children now spending more time at home.

This, she said, would include both over the counter and prescription drugs. “Children may get curious, and with the younger children you have the situation where you need to be careful with inhalants such as gasoline for the lawn mower,” she said.

She explained that curious minds often inhaled such substances, thereby creating a high, while in other cases, cough syrups were mixed with sweet drinks to also bring about a similar effect.

The Research Assistant also issued a caution against children spending extended periods of time on electronic devices, noting that the National Primary School Survey revealed that there was also a relationship between drug use, social media and video games. “Parents need to be vigilant at this time,” Mrs. Lee-Foster stressed.

julia.rawlins-bentham@barbados.gov.bb

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